Saturday, November 20, 2010

I Rebuild A Cannon (or Britainizing the Barclay)

You might remember my Barclay cannon, which I wrote about on September 26th. 2010 in "The Guns of Late September". It was in bad shape; broken wheel, chip off the front of the barrel.

After a few weeks of consideration, I decided it was time to make the repairs. My approach was to use one of my favorite products, J-B Weld, that wonderful, and one might say legendary, metal filled epoxy. The shield would also be replaced with .010" brass. The results were more than satisfactory, they surprised me.

The wheel was the most challenging part of the repair. I used 3/32" aluminum tubing to shape a new rim, and also used it for the missing spokes. I positioned them initially with CA glue, and then slathered on the J-B Weld, waiting for it to set a little more and then shaping it just a little with a wooden strip. It was laid on an old Testors' Dullcote cap, covered in wax paper, that was punctured to allow the hub to fit through. Interesting note; when the wheels were removed, I discovered that the wheels had been installed the wrong way, and that the hubs were far more detailed. Once the J-B Weld had dried, I sanded and filed the wheels to achieve the proper shape. Not perfect, but better than no repair at all.

The barrel went faster as far as shaping was concerned. I used a 1/8" plastic tube with a piece of wax paper wrapped around inserted into the muzzle. J-B Weld was applied to the missing section, shaped, and once it had dried, it was rather simple to shape.

The shield was initially glued into place with contact cement and CA. However, I desired a more permanent fix, so I used two bolts to attach it.
There was another reason for using the bolts. I wanted to try my hand at a baked enamel finish, and contact adhesive will soften. The next step was to prime the model. I removed the wheels and sprayed the model with Rustoleum gray primer. Once that had set hard, the parts were painted Testors classic Olive Drab, with the tires done in flat black, the breech in silver (all Testors' classic).
To bake the model, the wheels were temporarily mounted on a toothpick axle and raised above the baking surface by some aluminum foil. The rest of the cannon was likewise lifted with a wad of foil, and the whole thing, paint still tacky, was placed in a 200 degree F oven for 30 minutes. Once it had finished (and what a wonderful smell), the model was allowed to cool and be reassembled.
This is the end result -

It looks more like a Britains' cannon now. The finish is very tough. Certainly an improvement over the beat up cannon I purchased.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Things To Do With Cheap Plastic Artillery

A few weeks back, I came across four inexpensive field guns online. The price was excellent, working out to $1.75 a piece.

I have no idea who the manufacturer was. There are traces of a manufacturer under the trail; one could almost make out "Italy". Regardless, the field guns are decent enough, and offer plenty of potential. You see, these appear to be plastic copies of the Britain's 25 pounder, right down to the breech.

They aren't perfect, of course. The tires are abysmal, and there is a bit of warping.

Since they are so similar to the Britain's gun, I wondered if it would be possible to not only convert the guns so that they can fire, but if they could be made to look even better, perhaps by replacing the wheels. But they wouldn't be made into 25 pounders. Instead, they would be made up to look like late Great War 18 pounders.

The conversion was very simple. I used the spoked wheels from BMC limbers, and these in turn were mounted on a length of 3/32" aluminum tube, mounted higher up on the carriages. 1/16" plastic washers were used to provide a bushing to keep the wheels in place.

Using a 1/8" drill bit, I opened up the barrel to the breech; it is almost as if they copied not only a Britain's 25, they did a pantograph copy of one with the firing mechanism still in the barrel, because it certainly seems as if it is cast in there. A firing mechanism was made using a paperclip and a spring. Since the trail could detach, the spring was attached to the right trunnion.

It still needs to be painted, and of course there are some minor details. Once this one is finished, the remaining three will be likewise modified. The end result is what matters, and I think these will work out very well. (Note: Edited on 17 November to correct image links. Been doing quite a bit of editing of late, it seems...)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Motoring Into Battle

I've always wanted a Jeffrey Quad. Strike that; not always. Just for the past few months, once my understanding of the vehicle grew.
And it's not like there aren't a lot of Great War era 1/32 military vehicles. In a word; they are virtually nonexistent. True, there are a few 1/35 armor kits, some resin models, all pricey stuff and most really not suited for play. There are a few 1/32 models available, such as a German A7V and British Mark IV Tadpole, that are specifically designed to be used with 54mm soldiers. There are even a few limited production diecast models as well, that usually require a line of credit to purchase; play is out of the question with these, and I'm afraid I don't have the budget for them.
Where are the FT-17's, the Liberty trucks, and, yes, the Jeffrey Quads?
Which brings me to my model.

This was started in the summer of 2010, more of a test build to see if another craft kit, this time the covered wagon, could be turned into something a bit more usable. I picked up a few to use as limbers, but decided to convert one into a very simple Jeffrey Quad, using mainly the parts from the kit. I got as far as most of the body, which is extremely simplified. The cargo bed is wider than the prototype, but there were so many trucks that were conscripted that differences are to be expected. The wheels, though, were too large, and the replacement wooden wheels I had on hand were too thick.
That didn't work the way I had hoped.
I stopped in August when it was discovered that the plan to use nothing but parts from the kit was a poor one. At the beginning of this week, I decided to change my approach.
New wheels were made from 3/4" craft wheels extended out to 1 1/4" using black-brown scrapbook stock, 3/16" wide strips glued to the circumference to make new tires. The wheels would be turned around, with the flat side facing out. Axles were made from 1/16" dowels, using paper to shim them up to allow the wheels to fit snuggly.
A new frame was made from 1/8" square strip stock. While more detailed leaf springs could have been made, I chose to simplify those as well using 1/8" balsa sheet. 3/16" coffee stirrer wood was used for making axle rails.

The grill was made from scribed cardstock with strips for detail. The single light was made from a 3/16" wooden plug in a yoke made from copper wire. The steering wheel was made from a 1/2" snap that was worked with files to make it appear more accurate. The radiator cap is the head of a brass brad nail.
The canvas cover for the cargo bed was made from the fabric supplied in the kit, as was the wire frame found at the front and back. I designed this so that it can be removed. Coffee stirrer stock was used to reinforce the canvas at its edge. A brass jewelry hook was used for the tow.

Additional wire and wood bits were used to finish the model out, and it was painted with Testors Flat Olive, acrylic black for trim, acrylic gloss black for the steering wheel and seat, and Ceramcoat Timberline Green for the canvas.
It's not 100% accurate, and will certainly not win contests. But for toy soldier play, it is just right.

(Note: edited 15 November to correct some grammatical errors and to add some additional content)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Finally, The 1930's Edition Britain's 4.7" Naval Cannon (Mounted for Field Work)

I monitor the auction and collector's sites in search of items. Not always to buy but to see how the hobby is doing. As a toy soldier enthusiast, I'm sure I'm certainly not alone.
So, imagine my shock when I stumble upon this...

This is W. Britain's product no. 1264, a 1930's edition of the fabled 4.7" Naval Cannon. The price was fantastic, so, of course, I had to grab it Jamie let me insisted I have it. It even came with a bag of rounds (both 4.7 and 6 inch, apparently).
I'll just let the pictures do the talking. Here it is with some of the 4.7" rounds. There are dozens of them.

Here it is with my scratchbuilt de Bange 155mm. They complement each other.

The firing mechanism is somewhat worn; this cannon was well used!

And sadly, this will be the last I see of it. It is technically my Christmas present. Until then, it shall inhabit my dreams as the penultimate ultimate toy cannon (thanks Cort!).
(Note: this article was edited on 15 November to correct grammar)